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Loving Influence

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Could you imagine not having an electric bill? It would be something to be living “off the grid” and still have electricity.
Solar power may very well be a big part of our electronic future. Elon Musk just recently began selling solar powered roof shingles. They are somewhat cost prohibitive now, but just wait a few years and the entry price will go down and the benefits will continue to rise.
Most are familiar with the “agape” (αγαπη) love which emphasizes the choice of sacrificial devotion and service. However, Christians are also commanded to develop “brotherly love” with one another. The word “philadelphia” is defined as” affection for one’s fellow believer in Christ—‘love for one’s fellow believer, affection for a fellow believer.”[1] This is the Greek word translated “brotherly love” in , “Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another.” The second word translated “love” is “ἀγαπᾶν” (agapan).
The popular word “agape” (ἀγαπη) is defined as to have a warm regard for and interest in another, cherish, have affection for, love.”[2] Perhaps, “agape” love emphasis the choice to sacrifice in order to build up another. The Bible’s original words for love are used more interchangeably than one might expect. However, some points of emphasis are still apparent.
This verb “φιλέω” is defined as “to have a special interest in someone or something, frequently with focus on close association, have affection for, like, consider someone a friend.”[3] This word refers not only to a decision to accept and build up another through one’s own personal sacrifice (agape), but also ‘to have love or affection for someone or something based on association.”[4]
This is the word Jesus chose to use in , when he said, “Whoever loves (φιλῶν) father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves (φιλῶν) son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” Jesus was speaking of the quality of relationship which was developing. He also demanded that the relationship developed between himself and his disciples must be stronger than the relationship shared between family members. The plural form of the noun “philoi” (φίλοι) is translated by the word “friends” in .
There is no question that God has commanded us to love one another. The New Testament commands us love using the command “love one another” eleven times. Notice the many commandments to love one another.
• The command, which is second only to the command to love God is “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” ()
• “Love one another with brotherly affection” . God commanded us to have “brotherly love” (φιλαδελφίᾳ) toward one another. He also describes this “brotherly love” (φιλαδελφίᾳ) as being with “brotherly affection” (φιλόστοργοι).
• “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law” ().
• “Let all that you do be done in love” ().
• “Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” ().
• Since being together can often be difficult, God commanded “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love” ().
• Christians must love one another because “but love builds up” ().
• Love is to fill the atmosphere of the Christian home. Paul wrote, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (). Wives are to “love their husbands” (). Can a wife love her husband without spending quality time with him? Of course not. Neither can a congregation of people love one another without spending quality time together.
• In the Thessalonians love for one another was “increasing.”
• Paul said that one major purpose of the law of Christ was to develop love among God’s people. Paul’s personal preaching of New Testament Christianity was to bring about love. “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” ().
tells us to pursue love.
• Philemon is commended for his love for Christ and for his love to all the saints ().
says, “Let brotherly love continue.”
commands Christians to love the entire brotherhood.
, Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.
• One purpose of obeying the Gospel is to love one another “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for (εἰς) a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart” (). The stated purpose of Christians having “purified their souls though obedience to the truth” is “in order to bring about brotherly love (εἰς φιλαδελφίαν).” The English word “for” translates the word “eis” which means “to denote purpose in order to.”[5]
The command to love one another with brotherly love demands real attention and real effort. The local congregation is not simply a group which meets for a couple hours a week. Instead the church is God’s family. God intends for his family to love one another with brotherly affection.
Since Christians are commanded to love one another…
Since Christians are commanded to love one another (meaning to develop true and meaningful relationships with one another), then all are authorized to be together in “social settings” and to provide opportunities for those gatherings. If Christians neglect this togetherness, they are neglecting God’s command to love by building relationships. Since this togetherness is commanded and authorized, the responsible use of funds is also allowable to promote brotherly love.
These affection relationships or “philadelphia” commanded by God cannot be accomplished by mere decision. They must be developed by spending time with one another. This must also be quality time. Sitting in an auditorium without conversation is not quality time. Simply sitting in a room together is never going to build the “philadelphia” which God commanded. In order to build this “philadelphia”, Christians must spend time together outside the worship setting. Since this is “philadelphia” is commanded, the means to carry out the command are authorized.
The Bible does not tell us exactly how Christians are to develop these relationships. Some have gone overboard in their emphasis of social activities to the exclusion of the Gospel and Christian duties. Far too many have neglected Christian work and worship in the name of “fellowship.” This is no fellowship at all. Instead it is a sad use of the name of Christ.
As Jesus began his ministry, he called the disciples to follow him (). Peter and Andrew left their nets and followed him according to verse 20. The word translated “followed” is the word which has likely taken on the technical meaning of “to follow someone as a disciple.”[6] Still yet we can see the disciples began to experience life with the Lord. They were his traveling companions. Through their travels they learned many great lessons.
It was because of the relationships which were built during this time that the disciples had an increased confidence in and devotion to the Lord. John was able to write, “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life” ( NASB). The fellowship among the disciples and Jesus was made stronger by the time which they spent together.
These relationships which Jesus expected his followers to enjoy is implicit in his preaching. If Jesus did not expect his church to spend quality time together, then why did he spend so much time teaching individuals how to be together? The great bulk of the Sermon on the Mount is about how to cultivate godly relationships. In fact, most of the New Testament is written to describe relationships which God’s people should share.
The value of quality time is again seen in the life of Christ in . There Jesus is eating with his disciples and several lost people (9:10). This was a tremendous opportunity for Jesus to help his disciples and to help the lost people be saved. How did this opportunity arise? It was the sharing of a meal together. Jesus was so often involved in this sort of activity that he had the reputation of “eating with tax collectors and sinners” (). Jesus had these opportunities of quality time purposefully. He said, “It is not those who are healthy need a physician, but those who are sick.” How was Jesus trying to minister to the spiritually sick? He spent time with them and used that time to influence people for God’s glory.
When the record of Jesus’s miracles is listed, surely the feeding of the multitudes stand out. Jesus saw the suffering crowds and fed them. This meal was another teaching opportunity. From this quality time, the disciples saw further evidence that Jesus is the Christ. The multitudes saw a demonstration of God’s compassion.
John’s Gospel is a record of Jesus’s interactions with individuals in social situations. The Gospel begins with the description of the incarnation— “He dwelt among us” (). Jesus was willing to spend time with his people. The great miracle of Jesus turning the water to wine occurred during a social setting. Jesus began his discussion with the woman at the well in by asking for water. The remarkable emotion displayed by Jesus at John’s tomb in surely was caused by the great relationships built by enjoying quality time together. One of the sweetest teaching moments in the Gospels occurred as Jesus prepared breakfast for his disciples in .
How can we best develop relationships so that we can best exercise Godly influence?
Start building a relationship with someone today that will shape their eternity.
Start using the relationships you already have to bring people to God.
I have always been fascinated with those long lines of dominoes. Just line them up, have them travel around curves, you can arrange them any way you like and with one push they all fall down in order.
We can’t control anyone’s life that way, but we can try to influence them to line up their lives just right so that everything falls in order.
[1] Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 292.
[2] William Arndt, Frederick W. Danker, and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 5.
[3] William Arndt, Frederick W. Danker, and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 1056.
[4] Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 292.
[5] William Arndt, Frederick W. Danker, and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 290.
[6] William Arndt, Frederick W. Danker, and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 36.
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